And Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi, "Please let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after one in whose sight I may find favor." And she said to her, "Go, my daughter."Ruth 2:2(NASB)
Ruth is a captivating story where extreme hardship caused two bereft widows to exercise faith in God. It is a true story that shows how the Lord graciously provided for them in many different ways, and testifies to His goodness and grace.
Not only does it provide a peep into Israel's past history and the interesting way provision was made for widows, orphans, and other impoverished people, but it provides a beautiful picture of God's plan of redemption, where Naomi is identified as a type of Israel, Ruth is typified as the Gentile Bride of Christ, while Boaz the man she weds, is portrayed as a type of Christ - her Kinsman-Redeemer and beloved Bridegroom.
Chapter 1 describes how Naomi, her husband, and their family, had wandered far from God. It records how she and her daughter-in-law, Ruth, were brought to the brink of poverty. Naomi and her husband had tried to sort out their own problems when famine ravaged the land of Israel. However, instead of trusting God to provide for their needs, according to His goodness and grace, they went their own way. They ignored God's Law, lived in a pagan land and relied on themselves instead of trusting God's provision.
The death of her husband and both sons was the final blow for Naomi, who chose to blame God for her misfortune. However, she understood that God alone was her only hope, and so decided to return to the land of her birth and trust in the Lord God of Israel. Ruth, her Moabite daughter-in-law, had come to trust in the God of Israel, and together the two women journeyed to Bethlehem.
Chapter 2 introduces Boaz, a distant relative of Naomi's husband, Elimelech. He was a wealthy landowner, who not only graciously provided for their daily needs and necessities but would one day become Ruth's husband and her saviour - her kinsman redeemer.
Childless widows had little hope of earning a living in those days, and so having arrived in Bethlehem, Ruth asked her mother-in-law if she could go into the fields of harvest, and gather the gleanings of grain after the reapers had gathered in the harvest - as the Law permitted, "When you reap the harvest of your land," the Law stated, "you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, nor shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God."
Ruth was both poor and a foreigner in Israel, but she was ready and willing to work hard in the fields, so that she could provide sufficiently for herself and her aging mother-in-law. And so we read that, "Ruth departed and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers." The verse continues...."and she happened to come to the portion of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the family of Elimelech."
Of all the farmers in Bethlehem, Ruth just, "happened to come to the portion of the field belonging to Boaz!" There are no coincidences in God's economy! God knows the end from the beginning. He knew that as the story of Ruth and Boaz unfolded, He would use this very scenario to bless the two women who placed their hope in Him, and to forward His plan of redemption for the whole of humanity... and so Ruth gleaned in the fields belonging to Boaz - Naomi's wealthy relative!
Ruth did not deliberately seek out this wealthy man or try to draw attention to herself through various female wiles. She conducted herself wisely, behaved with integrity, and worked industriously. She faithfully gleaned in the fields, with a thankful heart, as she waited for God's timing and His leading.
God knew that He would use this young couple as instruments in the lineage of the promised Messiah... the Seed of the woman, Who would one day crush the serpents head. They were to be in the line of the promised Seed of Abraham, through Whom all the families of the earth would be blessed. God had already ordained that Ruth and Boaz would be placed in the ancestral line of the Messiah.
By God's grace, Ruth the Gentile bride would be wed to Boaz... the wealthy Israelite... and relative of Naomi, and together the couple would become part of the royal line of the house of Judah - as testified in the opening chapter of Matthew, "and Salmon fathered Boaz by Rahab; Boaz fathered Obed by Ruth; Obed fathered Jesse and Jesse fathered King David." Both Rahab the prostitute of Jericho and Ruth the penniless Moabitess, were two of the women named in Christ's ancestral line.
Boaz means 'the one in whom there is strength', and God knew that He would not only use this man to be the provider and protector for these women of faith, but the Lord had even greater plans for Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz. God works all things together for good to those that trust Him, and He had planned to use them to carry forward His perfect plan of Redemption.
As we look down the periscope of life to the birth of the Lord Jesus, we are reminded in Luke's gospel that the love-story that blossomed between Ruth and Boaz - which is recorded in the final chapters of the book, was beautifully orchestrated by the Lord in the progressive unfolding of His wonderful plan of redemption, for we read that the Lord Jesus was, "the son of Nathan, the son of David, the son of Jesse, the son of Obed, the son of Boaz...."
God is the Author of all that is good, and He is the One who can take the most difficult circumstances we may have to face and use them for our eternal good and for His greater glory. I am sure that when Ruth and Naomi were bereft of the husbands, without hope in the world, and living in the pagan land of Moab, they could not imagine the wonderful things that God had planned for them. May we adopt such an attitude of faith and live in active dependence on the Lord - Who has promised that eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it entered into the mind of man the wonderful things that God has prepared for those that love HIM.
Heavenly Father, as I consider the wonderful way You took the shattered lives of Naomi and Ruth, who were left widowed and alone in a pagan land, and You turned everything around for good, I am amazed and humbled at Your kindness and grace, Your power and sovereign authority. I pray that I will not stray from the path of peace, not rely on my own abilities, but trust You in all things. Help me to live my life in active dependence on You alone. Use my life I pray, to forward Your plans and purposes in whatever way You choose, and may I live each day to Your honour. This I ask in Jesus' name, AMEN.